You are not responsible for other people being uncomfortable with your choices.
Just read that again for me.
Too often we change something about ourselves because it makes someone else feel uncomfortable.
Our choice to eat a certain way has offended a family member, so we eat the bread that we know will make us sick.
We have pictures taken in a sleeveless dress, but someone at our church tells us that isn't modest so we feel embarrassed and hide the pictures and feel ashamed.
You choose not to read a certain book because your friend hates the author and you don't want to upset them.
You tell your kids not to talk about a family activity because you're worried it will make someone else feel bad/sad.
You don't get excited about being in a good relationship because your sister just got divorced.
Your mother doesn't sing anymore because your father told her she didn't sound good.
You threw away that bathing suit because someone thought the color didn't look right with your complexion.
You watched your sister go to college to get a degree in business because her favorite aunt said that would be safer than starting her own company.
You stayed in a poor relationship because you didn't want to hurt your current partner.
You didn't speak up at the meeting because you were afraid to ruffle feathers.
You learned something new but you kept it to yourself because it flies in the beliefs your family shared.
We sit down, shut up, pack away, close our eyes, stop dreaming, start pretending, and lose ourselves in the sea of the opinions and feelings of everyone else.
In an effort to keep the peace, we find a war within ourselves.
As we try to not offend, we injure our own spirit.
When we try to fit in, we get lost.
And that's the real fear right, getting ousted from the tribe. Getting kicked out from the club. Being told there is no room at the inn. Becoming a pariah. Being a burden. Being othered.
Being labeled as unclean, unworthy, unintelligent, unloving . . .
I have othered people. I have made them feel badly because of my own character weaknesses. I wasn't strong enough to hold my own beliefs while someone else held theirs. I didn't understand that someone else doing something else did not devalue my choices.
I was immature and lacked confidence.
I didn't trust my own beliefs so I was afraid of any that contradicted my own . . . and I made that fear a weapon against others.
I've also been on the other side. I've been called out and told I don't belong. I've been othered.
But who hasn't?
We all have a story. And we all play a roll in everyone else's.
My hope is that you (we) stop playing a supporting character because you're afraid to be the hero in your own life.
The hero is often alone.
The hero battles the villains because they became strong enough to pick up the sword and go on the adventures and make the sacrifices that NO ONE ELSE WOULD.
What hero changes themselves to make others feel better?
What hero allows their life to be controlled by the dictates of the loudest voice in the room?
A hero doesn't do that.
And you don't have to either.
It's not on you to make others comfortable with your choices and beliefs.
Do not live your life to pacify the shakey ideology of another.
Stretch and grow!
And do it all with hope and love.
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